by Ev Chase
Boulder City Airport
Flying High Good for Boulder City
A Coast Guard pilot, a crop duster, and a fire fighter flying tankers, are just a few piloting careers Mike Minshall has experienced. Mike knows how to fly, and as Boulder City Airport Coordinator, he has the job of handling Boulder City's 800 acre aviation future. Mike says he plans on staying around "until they throw me out."
It will take Minshall a long time to deal with 800 acres of Boulder City's flying future, but for now a more pressing problem is the concern about the 120 hangers located on airport property. The problem is, 120 hangers are not enough for the airport's current needs.
"We have no hanger space whatever." Minshall says. "The city is in the process now of releasing a request for proposal so we can construct four more hangers because of the need expressed by the citizens of Southern Nevada."
Mike, who has been working for Boulder City about eight months, is no stranger to airports and aircraft. Most of his association with air fields has been landing on them as a pilot, but he will have to prove himself as an airport manager before the City will sign him up long term.
"They offered the job to me on a contract basis until July and then they will make up their mind at that time if they want to keep this at a full time position or go back to part time."
The City spends a lot of time "walking on thin ice," but according to one supporter (page 9), Mike is doing the job right and should be around long enough to prove himself.
Unlike other debacles taking criticism in recent years, the airport has proven itself over many years to be a steady and more popular provider for the City of Boulder City (See McBride History page18).
Andrea Anderson, local Community College Director, who sits on the Boulder City Council, has a particular interest in the airport and supports it fully.
"The Community College has an aviation program which is based here," Mike continues. "The flight school here at Air Excel is part of that program. The college provides the classrooms and the academic portion of the training and Air Excel provides the flight instruction."
Mike sees the opportunities at the airport as unlimited. He feels it is up to the citizens of Boulder City to determine how far they want the airport to go.
"The potential is tremendous," Mike says. "And it's my job to make sure the airport is safe and efficient and the rules and regulations are abided by," Mike says.
"But I'm also an aviation specialist. I've been in it all my life. I can see the potential here and it is a tremendous opportunity if, in fact, the citizens want it to happen."
Clark County manages all the airports in Clark County, according to Mike, with one exception. That exception is the Boulder City Airport.
"Clark County has pretty much set all the rules and regulations," Mike continues. "And they are not flexible.
"A lot of people in general aviation, the non-commercial airlines, the aviators, the person who owns the small aircraft, the small jet plane for his or her business and the small fixed base operators such as Air Excel, don't fit into Clark County's vision for aviation.
"Those people are starting to look for another place to go in Clark County and they are looking at Boulder City."
Unlike many of our Boulder City projects and activities, the money generated at the airport stays at the airport to take care of airport maintenance and operation.
"The airport is set up like that so it doesn't cost the City of Boulder City any money to operate," Mike says. "Just the sheer fact of the people coming to the airport and operations of the airport, brings revenue to Boulder City."
Minshall has a vision and understands the advantages the airport can provide to the city as a whole.
"For instance, we have these big airplanes out here on the ramp. They're old military aircraft (Albatross) that a group of people got together and restored. They come here to Boulder City every year at this time - they fill up the Boulder Dam Hotel and motels around town. They stay for two weeks. It benefits the airport because they pays tie-down fees and buy fuel."
Although Minshall realizes the opportunity to be a "premier airport," it's also important not to grow out of proportion to the city.
"Maybe just a tad bigger - we don't want airlines flying in here - we don't want noisy airplanes going in and out of here."
Mike also embraces the idea the Boulder City Airport has a policy of friendlness.
"We fly friendly," he says. "All of our traffic is down over the dry lake bed and south and west of the airport. Anything north and east are mercy helicoptors or emergency services."
Although the airport does not have an FAA tower, people do fly into the Boulder City Airport and go to work in Las Vegas.
A late breaking report from Mayor Bob Ferraro indicates that on the drawing board is a new commercial facility known as Papillon Heliport Terminal (pictured above) which will be located at the southern end of Paul Fisher Way.
Expected to be completed by February 2006, the facility will encompass 14,750 sq.ft. with an estimated cost of $4,892,000.
Although helicopters have not been the favorite aircraft at the air field it has been noted operators are working tirelessly to mitigate unwanted noise. More than a Heliport, there will be an interpretive center in the terminal providing an education venue.